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Trade Nations

For:   Also on: iPhoneiPad
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Time is money (and wood, and cloth)

Product: Trade Nations | Developer: Bight Games | Publisher: Z2Live - A King Studio | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Multiplayer | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | File size: 13.7MB | Version: Europe | App version: 2.2.0
Trade Nations iPhone, thumbnail 1
Money may not be able to buy you love, but it does buy an awful lot of other things.

It’s also been the common recurring feature in every freemium title for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, an easy catch-all that magically creates everything from houses and pigs to castles and godly powers.

Trade Nations attempts to split from the establishment by turning cash into resources. There's no magic economy at work here - it's money for materials. Unfortunately, it's a less-than compelling proposition for your free time.

Not-so-free market principles

The goal in Trade Nations is to build a thriving economic community, amassing resources and capital to construct a small city from more than 60 different buildings and ornaments.

Focusing more on economic simulation than city-building, however, you're responsible for cultivating financial stability and prosperity. Villagers need jobs and jobs are created through infrastructure, which means breaking ground on all kinds of construction projects.

What jobs you assign to villagers is as important as developing the urban area itself. A prosperous village has to be run tightly and managing the various aspects means tapping through menus, checking resources, and trading them on the market.

Leaving the gold standard

Rather than focusing on gold production, the modern-thinking villagers in Trade Nations use eight separate resources in building all of their structures.

Some of these resources, like wood and stone, are vital in the physical construction of buildings, whereas others like grain are more specialised in their application. Gold itself is a resource, but it's only created by selling either finished goods (to friends or to yourself) or raw materials at the market.

Unlike other freemium games, like FarmVille, that threaten to take over your life with set-in-stone harvest times, Trade Nations tenders a new system of haulers – extra citizens assigned to a mine or resource-producing building that automatically carry the harvested goods back to the stockpile.

Don't worry - there are still plenty of ways it tries to intrude on your life, most noticeably in the production buildings like bakeries and carpenters, but at least most of the game can be left to its own devices while you get on with other things.

Sugar rushed

You'll have plenty of time to do these other activities as Trade Nations has some of the most demanding requirements for low-level buildings I’ve seen in any game.

It’s not unusual for freemium titles to demand patience – they make their money through letting people rush past this waiting time, after all – but having to wait so long, so early, is a little galling.

So, too, is the lack of benefits for adding friends, which is reduced to a slightly confusing ordering system that ends up ironically being less useful the more friends you have.

Even worse, a recent update has been the source of numerous technical problems including game-killing crashes. Trade Nations does have a few fine ideas: the trading system seems robust and the haulers make things a lot less intrusive. But, you need either a lot of money or plenty of patience to enjoy them.
Trade Nations
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 24 November 2010
Trade Nations has a few neat ideas, but it places too much emphasis on long harvest times and lacks the same level of content as its peers
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